Santa Clara University

Religious Studies department

Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053-0335
(408) 551-3000 ext.4273

Location: Kenna Hall
Room number: 319

José Balcells

Lecturer (Academic Quarter)

My adventure and entry into the field of religious education is rather atypical.  Prior to my graduate studies, I received a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Washington State University. I put this to good use by working as an Assistant Winemaker and developing my own wines. I later completed additional coursework in Computer and Information Systems.  I established one business and then founded a second, working first in financial planning, and then in the field of IT consulting for twenty-two years. I have been married for 28 years and am the proud father of three, two currently attending college and one in high school.  After years in the business world and a re-evaluation of my life, I initiated a shift in focus by selling my last company and moving from Washington to the Bay area. My interest expanded as I completed a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages with a concentration in Early Judaism and Second Temple Period literature at the Jesuit School of Theology and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.  I deeply understand the need to speak the language as an integral part of understanding the culture of others, having been born in Spain, raised in the Caribbean, and yet living for 25 years in the United States. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel around the world to further explore other cultures. My journey thus began by learning Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, allowing me to study texts in their original languages. I have enjoyed teaching Hebrew in Latin America and continue to strengthen my skills in Hebrew by spending time in Israel, as time permits.

 I am completing my PhD in Biblical Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California with a focus on Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern archaeology of the Persian and Early Hellenistic periods.  I enjoy the outdoors, and have incorporated archaeology into my research to enrich and complement my study of the text.  The research for my dissertation explores the Persian period texts, looking at the religious practices of the time. I use archaeology, actively having participated in field work in Israel, to provide additional insights into the rituals and practices within a family unit. My interest in the ancient Near East texts and archaeology give me an opportunity to teach in areas that benefit from this perspective. This is reflected in a graduate course that I co-caught on the archaeology of Khirbet Qumran and caves 1-11 of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.

 In my journeys, I have grown to love the Scriptures and the awesome God that inspired them.  My desire is to give students an introduction to the some of the resources and interpretation means available to begin your own spiritual pursuit.  Respect of other religions and beliefs begins with education and understanding.  In the SCTR19Religions of the Book course, I hope that you will come away with an understanding of the main texts used by these different religions, the different ways possible to read and interpret them, and a sense of how these texts and traditions have influenced the rituals and practices for these religions. Our world is filled with biases and intolerance, much of which, includes a tendency to ridicule and criticize other religions. It is my hope that with our new understanding of other religions, you would be able to be part of a local and world transformation which invites others to meaningful interfaith conversations and respect for each other.



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